Cross Country: Wildcats prepare for Dr. Keeler Invitational, attempt to qualify for NCAA Preliminaries


Daily file photo by Tucker Johnson

Two Northwestern runners compete in a race. The Wildcats will run in nearby Naperville, Illinois a few weeks after racing in Champaign.

Sophie Mann, Reporter

Cross Country

With the Dr. Keeler Invitational this weekend, Northwestern will have to leave it all out on the track as it heads to Naperville, Illinois, for the last event in which it can qualify for the NCAA Preliminaries.

Two Wildcats are hoping to qualify for the NCAA Preliminary in the 10,000 meter event, coach ‘A Havahla Haynes said. While Sunday is the last day of the meet, they will need to perform well Thursday, the only day the 10,000 meter event is offered, in order to maintain hopes of attending the NCAA Preliminary in Lawrence, Kansas in a few weeks.

This puts extra pressure on the Cats, with Thursday being the first day of competition and maybe their last of the year. Haynes said two runners will set the pace for the other two trying to qualify. In practice, NU will try to mimic a race-like situation to prepare runners for this higher pressure situation.

After a more than two week break from competing, the team has increased mental toughness, Haynes said. Even though the break didn’t provide much time for increasing fitness significantly, this weekend will test the team as they try to make a bid for regionals, Haynes said.

Basically what the meet two and a half weeks ago did was it told us what we needed to work on,” Haynes said. “(We) worked a lot on our … decision making during workouts, so it translates into decision making during races.”

For senior Allison Jacobsen, this weekend is more relaxed than for those trying to qualify. The Academic All-Big Ten honoree finishes her collegiate career Thursday after the 10,000 meter race.

Additionally, Jacobsen said everyone, including her, is fairly calm going into the race because training has been going well and everyone is looking forward to displaying that on the track.

“Tomorrow I’m just thinking about seeing what I can do,” Jacobsen said. “We’re all just excited to race tomorrow. … The training is there, and it’s just applying it to a race.”

During her time at NU, Jacobsen said the team has gone to this meet a few times, but this year the team has the most realistic chance of qualifying than any of her previous years on the team.

Haynes also spoke about the progress the Cats have made this season.

“I think we are going to be competitive at this meet, similar to the Illinois meet,” Haynes said.  “Will we win everything? No. Will we be competitive? Yes.”

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